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The Clutter Categories: THE PARENT

Your clutter says a lot about what’s going on in your life, both externally and internally. While everyone’s situation is unique, I’ve found that most people with too much stuff fall into general categories: The Collector, The Inheritor, The Parent, The Shopper, The Scout, The Historian, or The Hostess.

THE PARENT (with kids at home)

Parents of all shapes, sizes, and ages tend to accumulate A LOT of kid stuff – and the more you have (kids), the more you have (stuff). While your children are young and living at home, every developmental milestone generates different clothes, toys, photographs, videos, books, kitchenware and more!! How do you know what to keep and what to save?

Your first consideration is space . . . eventually you will run out of room in closets, dressers, bookcases, etc. My advice – let your container be your guide. Closet space for kids (especially if it’s shared space) should only contain useable, wearable clothes that fit NOW.

Saved clothing (to grow into) should be boxed up, labeled, and stored up high in the closet where the children don’t need access or under the bed (which keeps toys and shoes and clothes from disappearing into that abyss). Use smaller clear plastic containers up high and use long shallow underbed storage for shoes and bulkier items. Attic and garage storage are NOT climate friendly and should be avoided as options. You won’t be able to keep everything, but letting your space dictate will keep the “best stuff” manageable.

Children’s books should fit on children’s bookcases. If there are too many, eliminate anything torn, water damaged, or defaced first. Keep activity books and writing supplies with your arts and crafts supplies (like Playdough, beading, glue, glitter, etc.) If there are holiday titles, store them with holiday decorations and cycle them in as the seasons change. Retired books can be saved with memorabilia but limit those books to one or two per year. If you make regular trips to the library, you can try to designate a special basket or shelf for library books.

I like cube storage for toys – with rigid plastic boxes for categories of toys. The boxes should be short enough for the child to see inside. Add accessible toy storage as you need to, but don’t eliminate play space in the process.

Create memory boxes for each child to hold a year’s worth of memorabilia. This means you won’t be able to save every graded school paper, by the way. Aim to balance life lived with achievement! Paper memorabilia can be stored in 12x12 scrapbook boxes, and shoebox sized boxes (or a little larger) should be plenty of room for one year’s chunky memorabilia. Include notes about the memorabilia and its significance. Later, you may decide to photograph the three-dimensional items and create a photo book with the best of the paper items from that year.

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